On Friday we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady, remembering her journey to the hill-country of Judah. There, at a site identified with modern Ein Karem on the outskirts of modern Jerusalem, she meets Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. The unborn John leaps in the womb as if to greet the unborn Messiah, Jesus, present in the womb of Mary. Several beautiful churches mark the site and a charming statue of the two pregnant women has been placed there in recent times. On the walls of the courtyard we find the great prayer that Our Lady spoke here, the Magnificat, in many different languages. 

Over the centuries it has been set to music by many composers, including Bach, Vivaldi and Monterverdi. Very popular is the modern version “And holy is his name” set to the Scottish folk melody “Wild Mountain Thyme”. 

Catch it sung well here.

And here is the Magnificat in the Grail translation, used in the Divine Office every evening.

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her nothingness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
On those who hear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength
And scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones
And raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remebering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
for Abraham and his sons for ever.

Fr Matthew

Saint Rita of Cascia

Feast Day 22 May

Saint Rita (baptised Margherita Lotti) was born in 1381 in Cascia near Spoleto, Umbria, in Italy. When she was twelve her parents arranged a marriage for her, a common practice at the time, despite her repeated requests to be allowed to later enter a convent. Her husband, Paolo Mancini, was rich, but was a quick-tempered and immoral man with many enemies. Rita bore two sons, and brought them up in the Christian faith.

Rita endured Paolo’s insults, physical abuse and infidelities for many years. According to tradition, through her humility, kindness and patience, Rita was able to eventually convert her husband to a better life, more specifically persuading him to renounce a family feud, a vendetta. However, the feud between the two families became more intense, and when her husband’s allies betrayed him to the other family, he was stabbed to death. Rita gave a public pardon at Paolo’s funeral to her husband’s murderers, but her sons wanted to revenge their father’s death. Rita, fearing that her sons would lose their souls, tried to persuade them from retaliating, but to no avail.

After they both died young, Rita tried to enter the local monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene but was turned away because of her family’s reputation. However, at the ager of thirty-six, she was eventually allowed to enter the monastery, and remained there, living by the Augustinian Rule, until her death from tuberculosis in 1457. When Rita was approximately sixty years of age, she was meditating before an image of Christ crucified. Suddenly, a small wound appeared on her forehead, as though from a thorn from Christ’s crown of thorn. For the next fifteen years she bore this external sign of union with Christ. Her body, which is claimed to have remained incorrupt over the centuries, is venerated today at Cascia. The September Pilgrims visited there in 2002.

Rita was beatified in 1626, but not canonized until 1900. St Rita has acquired the reputation, together with St Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. On the 100thanniversary of her canonization in 2000, Pope John Paul II noted her remarkable qualities as a Christian woman. Aspects of her life remain of great relevance until today, and she is seen, and her intercession sought, as a patron saint of abuse victims, loneliness, and marriage difficulties, among other needy groups.
                                                                                                                                                               Fr Matthew



A story for Eastertide

I put this in the Easter “LINK” and several people suggested a wider circulation…

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art, but the son died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father grieved deeply for his only son. A month later there was a knock at the door. A young man with a package said, ‘I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’ The father opened the package – a portrait of his son, painted by the young man, capturing his son’s personality. He offered to pay for the picture. ‘No, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.’

The father always took visitors to see the portrait. When he died there was a great auction of his paintings and many people gathered to see them. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. ‘We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?’ There was silence. Someone shouted, ‘We want to see the famous paintings.’ But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding?’ Another voice angrily said: ‘We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with it!’ But still the auctioneer continued, ‘The son!’ Who’ll take the son?’

Finally, the voice of the man’s gardener came from the back of the room. ‘I’ll give $10 for it.’
‘Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the Masters’. The crowd was becoming angry. The auctioneer pounded the gavel… ‘Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!’
Someone shouted, ‘Now let’s get on with the collection!’, but the auctioneer laid down his gavel. ‘I’m sorry, the auction is over.’
‘What about the paintings?’
‘I’m sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will that I was not allowed to reveal until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!’
God gave His son – and whoever takes the Son gets everything…

Fr Matthew